(WATHENA, Kan.) Seven points doesn't sound like much, but that was the difference between Riverside's early season end and a trip to the playoffs."Seven points is a big deal for us," junior quarterback/safety Andrae McGaughy said. "We were so close. It makes us more hungry for this year."
"That drives us like none other," senior guard/linebacker Zachary Halter added."I'm getting goosebumps just talking about it."
That makes it easy to pinpoint the Cyclones' mission in 2013: a playoff berth, just as they achieved in 2011 in the first year after merging Wathena and Elwood.
This year's group believes it has the experience to get there."I think all of them can play the role," head coach Scot Koranda said. "I think we've got a lot of talented, young kids coming up, so we're excited about that."
The Cyclones said goodbye to nine seniors and lost receiver Dakota Pummell, who is now at Lafayette. But a stout mix of backfield talent could make the rushing attack difficult to sniff out.
"Five, six of them are all competing, and I think that gives us a little ability in a game where we can run any of the three, four, five of them in and still be very consistent."
That stable backs up the speedy McGaughy in his second year under center behind an offensive line with a ample size, all-conference experience, and three returning starters.
It's a welcome change to the youth the Cyclones spent the 2012 campaign and this offseason shedding."I think we stand a chance," McGaughy said. "We did a really good job last year with everybody. I feel like we have enough talent to do what we did last year or maybe go even farther."
"We'll have good competition but I think we'll hold up against everybody just fine," Halter said.With increased numbers in the weight room and in camp, the Cyclones are showing obvious signs of their eagerness to make a run well into November.
"I think the hunger's there, I think the drive is there, and I'm really looking forward to this season with these kids," Koranda said.
Riverside opens the season on Sept. 6th at Doniphan West.